Chatbots have been a staple of the digital landscape for years, offering solutions to queries, performing tasks, and even providing companionship. But the game is changing. At the London Chatbot Summit, a gathering traditionally focused on chatbots, this year’s focus was artificial intelligence (AI). CoinGeek Conversations host Charles Miller had the opportunity to delve into this transformative shift and interview two prominent attendees, Craig Massey and Professor Elizabeth Stokoe.
Craig Massey, a serial entrepreneur, previously the founder and chairman of Block Dojo, has now ventured into the realm of AI with his new incubator, AI Forge. He says Block Dojo had a significant impact on the blockchain industry, accounting for 24% of all blockchain startups in 2022. Despite this, Craig decided to embrace AI with his new enterprise: “We’ve taken all the learnings from the blockchain incubator and transposed them into an AI incubator.”
Massey discussed the appeal of AI to corporates, emphasizing the differences in enthusiasm. While blockchain faced internal conflicts and skepticism, AI is met with eagerness. The AI technology complements blockchain in areas like content creation, rights management, and combating fake news, adding a layer of rigor. It also streamlines back-office processes within corporations, making them more efficient and less bureaucratic.
With AI Forge’s commitment to business-to-business solutions, it’s no surprise that they’ve been attracting corporate interest. As Craig Massey mentioned, “We had 324 applications into cohort one. We’ve already surpassed that for Cohort Two.” This overwhelming response demonstrates the growing interest in AI and AI Forge’s initiatives, he says.
Massey’s words also shed light on their rigorous selection process, with a final 30 contenders facing a judging panel that includes luminaries like the head of AI for Google and Meta as well as AI founders with successful exits. AI Forge’s approach seems to be resonating, as Massey explains: “The applications we’ve had are clever, more product-oriented.” The focus on productization and collaboration with interested corporates, signing letters of intent and pursuing proof of concepts, reflects AI Forge’s proactive approach to creating solutions that could lead to quick acquisition, suggesting future trade sale exits, potentially in the range of £30 to £40 million.
Massey hopes that blending AI with blockchain creates a synergy that could redefine industries. As he notes, “for me, they’re not like two separate technologies. They’re a perfect marriage.” This intersection promises a bright future where chatbots powered by AI become smarter, more intuitive, and deeply integrated into our daily lives.
Still at the London Chatbot Summit, Charles embarked on a quest to unravel the enigmatic world of AI-driven chatbots. Inspired by the potential of AI Forge’s startups, he delved into questions that seem to hover over this dynamic field: can AI-powered chatbots ever match the conversational finesse of humans? Are these bots capable of rivalling human interactions?
Charles turned to the expertise of Professor Elizabeth Stokoe, an authority in the science of conversation. On the relevance of her field to the chatbot industry, Professor Stokoe stressed the need to analyze whether chatbots genuinely engage in conversations by leveraging research on human interaction.
When discussing her methodology, Professor Stokoe explained how conversation analysts like herself rely on recordings of real-life interactions, avoiding simulations or interviews. They focus on what unfolds in the actual interaction, including the moments of engagement and disengagement. She recounted a study that revealed the architecture of initial inquiry calls to community mediation services, highlighting key points that either engage or disengage participants.
The conversation then shifted to the role of AI in this domain. Professor Stokoe shared an eye-opening comparison between human conversations and AI simulations: “One of the things that I’ve been talking about today is actually doing this direct comparison of two people having a conversation on the phone and then getting ChatGPT to role-play one of those parties. You see immediately how painful it is when ChatGPT tries to take part in a conversation.”
Highlighting the limitations of AI, Professor Stokoe illustrated how ChatGPT struggles with recipient design, which involves agile, adaptive responses within a conversation, something that humans excel at effortlessly. While humans intuitively understand the nuances of interactions, AI still grapples with basic cues, which can lead to awkward or inefficient chatbot interactions.
Professor Stokoe emphasized the practical aspects of AI tools. The crucial question revolves around whether AI genuinely enhances user experiences by simplifying tasks and improving interactions or unintentionally complicates the user journey. This exploration of AI-driven chatbots by Charles and Professor Stokoe paints a clear picture of the complex intersection between technology and human communication, offering a glimpse into the future of chatbot interactions.
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